FORT KNOX, Ky - “I was standing on the shoulders of giants – of individuals that paved the path before me, so I have that responsibility to kind of pay it back,” said Col. Malcolm S. Bush, the director of V Corps signal operations. “That's what I'm really here for now at this stage of my career – it’s just to help out and do the best I can.”
Bush spoke from corps headquarters in central Kentucky; but his journey to professional excellence began in Oklahoma’s largest city and state capital. The Oklahoma City native started his ascent in Oklahoma State University orange and black rather than Army green, completing a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering Technology.
The experience developed his technological understanding and proficiency but didn’t come cheap.
“At the time the Army had a student loan payment plan that would reimburse all your student loans,” he recalled. “So, I took the enlisted route first to get all my student loans paid off and then I commissioned after that.” He enlisted as a 31S, or satellite communications system operator and maintainer in 1998.
His advanced individual training produced more than a military occupational specialty and a follow-on assignment: he also met his wife of 26 years, Shirley, at AIT in Fort Gordon, Georgia. He commissioned through Officer Candidate School in 2001. Shirley also commissioned as a Signal officer, through ROTC. She left the service just prior to the birth of the couple’s daughter.
His career took him from U.S. hubs like Fort Campbell, Kentucky, Fort Bragg, N.C., and U.S. Army Cyber Command, also at Fort Gordon, to Mannheim, Germany and V Corps’ Eastern European area of responsibility. As the “Victory Corps” senior automation official, he synchronizes planning, engineering, management, and systems integration of tactical and strategic networks from Fort Knox to Camp Kosciusko, enabling personnel across the command to communicate, coordinate and accomplish their missions.
Notwithstanding his reserved demeanor, Bush embraced leadership and mentorship throughout his career. Nor did he confine his attention to fellow officers – he developed his noncommissioned officers and Soldiers as energetically as he did his officers.
“Previous to being a corps G6, I was a division G6,” he noted. “At that level I really was able to reach out and touch the young majors and the young senior NCOs that were down at the brigade level. I also got a chance to work hand in hand with the company grade officers and Soldiers that enabled communications across the division.”
Despite his assignment to a “top heavy” senior headquarters, Bush continues to develop young Soldiers, taking every opportunity to interact not only with directorate junior troops but with personnel at lower echelons, and speak with those in positions he has previously held. He goes out of his way to engage Soldiers from rotational units during the Victory Corps’ nonstop operations and exercises. That engagement allows him to work closely with young officers and NCOs, and bestow wisdom and experience he has gleaned during his time in the Army.
Bush describes mentorship of junior leaders – particularly company grade officers – as particularly rewarding, noting many have gone on to distinguished careers, sometimes even battalion command.
“Now they’re battalion (operations officers) and battalion (executive officers),” he noted. “And I've been able to watch them grow and see where they're at right now. And it's been very rewarding.”
Bush fully embraces his identity and believes in setting an example not only as an officer, but as an African American and a family man; but his leadership and example clearly transcend race and ethnicity.
He’s conscious of representing not “just the race, but being a man and showing how a man has a family and the role that he plays – and just doing the right thing and making the right decisions, throughout the day.”
"I think it's important that everyone has someone that they can see – that doesn't necessarily have to look like them but may come from where they came from,” he added. “From the enlisted perspective, or come from Oklahoma, or come from the South or whatever it may be. I think it's important that everyone has people that they can see succeeding – and the Army offers that opportunity.”